Last Tuesday March 4 1997 Notorious BIG rolled through KMEL’s Breakfast Club and did his last radio interview. I recall him being upbeat and playful… He was in good spirits and he seemed to have an air of optimism about him. He mentioned that he was ready to take the rap world by storm. He spoke about how he had put a lot of hard work into his upcoming album ‘Life After Death‘. The album was recorded over a 9 month period.
Biggie spoke very passionately about the importance of putting God in your life… ‘A lot of people are surprised to hear someone like me say that.. they think it makes you soft’, he said.. ‘But if God is with you no one can be against you..no one is stronger then God’.
He mentioned that it was his good friend and the man he managed Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs who introduced this drug dealer turned rapper to God. It was a Biggie Smallz most have rarely seen or heard. It was an introspective Biggie who seemed to have matured…The Biggie I recall in his last radio interview was a Biggie who spoke emphatically about the hell he had been through with the this whole East/West Coast civil war within hip hop. He spoke frankly and earnestly about what it was like being in the middle of this whole drama…
2Pac in the movie Juice
He told our audience that most people didn’t really understand the relationship between him and 2Pac.. He spoke on the fact he and Pac were nothing more then rappers and that a lot of things were blown out of proportion by the media. However there was one comment that was a bit disturbing.. When asked directly as to whether or not he had a hand in the killing of his arch rival 2Pac Shakur, Biggie responded in a coy type of fashion that ‘he wasn’t that powerful yet’. When asked again he responded the same way. He didn’t put forth that unequivocal, undeniable answer of ‘No’. It was almost as if Biggie wanted to keep some mystery about him. It was as if he wanted people to somehow think that he was somehow capable of carrying out such a heinous crime’. Personally it wasn’t a very constructive thing to do… considering there were still so many people here on the West Coast that were both still grieving and somehow thought that Biggie had something to do with PAC’s demise.
This is not to say that his answers which incidentally were said on the Wake Up Show in LA the week before had anything to do with him being killed…but it leaves one to wonder…why he would go there.. Why not permanently put all those rumors to rest.According to witnesses, Notorious BIG was hanging out at an after party for the Soul Train Music Awards. The party was being thrown by Vibe Magazine at the Automotive Museum in downtown LA and Biggie was in full swing with an entourage of about 30 people including Lil Caesar, and Lil Kim.
Many claim Biggie and company had been ‘flossin’ big time [steppin’ out]..by adorning fancy ‘gangster outfits’ and showing little concern for their safety in LA. Biggie and most of his entourage had been chillin’ in LA for the past couple of weeks laying down the groundwork for the promotion of his upcoming album. From the outside looking in, Biggie’s visible presence in LA indicated that everything was squashed and there’s was no longer any more bad blood between LA based Death Row and the New York based Bad Boy record companies who had embarked on a new and more peaceful direction for hip hop. A lot of this was reinforced by the recent ‘coming together’ of Snoop Dog and Sean Puffy Combs.. on the Steve Harvey Show. Folks simply felt it was all good…Industry insiders said such was not the case.The word on the streets was there were still a number of individuals angry at Biggie.. His high visible in Los Angeles was viewed by some as a smack in the face to 2Pac. People holding such sentiments may have been small in number…but they were nevertheless dangerous enough that Biggie should’ve been concerned and aware of his surroundings…
The actual shooting occurred when a drive by assailant let loose at Big as he sat in his Suburban. Biggie was on his way to 92.3 The Beat to do an interview. Lil Caesar was apparently with him but was unharmed. Nearby was a vehicle with Foxy Brown inside… The windshield to that vehicle was shattered… After the shooting, many of the NY based artist became very concerned.. Most left the LA area the next day [Sunday] as opposed to Monday when they were scheduled. The word was out that NY rappers best beware..
The fallout of this tragedy has left many within the hip hop community shocked and despaired. Rumors immediately began to surface. Witnesses claim that Notorious BIG has earlier that evening engaged in a heated argument with DJ Quik.. The rumors speculating that Quik had something to do with the shooting immediately circulated around the Bay Area.. Other rumors surfaced saying that Suge Knight was the mastermind behind the shootings.. It was a message from his jail cell to let Biggie and everyone else know that he was very much in control despite being handed a 8 year prison sentence.. Another theory was that Biggie was gunned down by LA Crips because him and Bad Boy refused to pay an extortion fee to members of the LA Based gang. Other speculated that it was a Mafia hit. The most outrageous and yet persistent rumor is that it was someone connected to 2Pac… perhaps even Pac himself was involved if you believe the rumors about him being alive. Ironically Biggie was killed 2 weeks before the release of his lp like 2Pac… It also occurred 6 month and a day after 2 Pac’s untimely demise. Another disheartening speculation is that there would be retaliation from the East Coast… Artist like Ice Cube and Mack 10 have been said to be next on the hit list of this on going saga. Whatever the case the shooting took place in front of a lot of people within the music industry.. and that Biggie was the intended target… Many are refusing to talk..
The Vibe on the streets out here in the Bay Area has been one of frustration.. Many have gotten fed up with a situation that has gotten totally out of hand.. Many have pledged to help bring about some substantial changes.. Still others have sadly celebrated Biggie’s death claiming that it was just revenge for PAC’s death.. ‘Now folks back east know how it feels’ was what many said. In San Francisco Fillmore district there were folks actually getting drunk and partying over the fact that Biggie got shot.. Things have definitely gotten bad within some circles.What’s so sad is that Biggie at age 24 leaves behind two children, a wife and his mom.
Hip Hop based radio station around the country immediately addressed this issue. Here in San Francisco on KMEL’s Street Knowledge Show, Public Enemy‘s Harry Allen and Christopher Mohammed from the Nation Of Islam… help set the tone and bring about a proper perspective on this scenario. As tragic as this even was.. many within the hip hop nation have taken a stance to recommit themselves to uplifting and bringing about redirect people down a more positive path.
Christopher Mohammed spoke about the influence of outside forces. He reminded people about the counter intelligence programs of the 60s in which African American organizations were deliberately pitted against one another. Through media manipulation the so called East/West Coast war has been brought to new and dangerous heights.. Brother Chris let it be known this whole incident was bigger Biggie and 2Pac and that the whole East/West coast war is an attempt to keep Black folks from uniting..
Harry Allen spoke about many people being left to feel powerless and how hip hop has become something that they no longer control. He stressed the importance of folks getting some sort of spiritual grounding and to resist the temptation of trying to fit into this whole East West War just to garner a reputation.
Sway and King Tech
The following morning… Dr. Dre and Red Alert appeared on KMEL’s Breakfast Club morning show as did Chuck D from Public Enemy. The main topic at hand was parental responsibility and the role those of us in media play in helping solve or bring about problems. Red Alert noted that its important that the lines of communication between East and West be kept open.. The result has been the calling a radio summit… Currently Sway of the Wake Up Show and program director Michelle S of KMEL and others are trying to assemble key hip hop djs and artists from around the country for a soon to be announced on air town hall meeting/ hip hop summit. The plan is to have it air live in as many markets as possible simultaneously. Most important of course is Cali and New York.. Dr Dre took things a step further and insisted that this summit be televised as well as aired on the radio.. People are working to see if this can happen.. We will keep you posted as this on air summit develops.
In another strange twist of events…Suge Knight has reportedly been stabbed seven times while on lock down yesterday… The weapon was sharpened chicken bones…There has been no official report on his condition and who the assailant was…Death Row Records as of today 3/12/97 has issued a statement denying such an event has taken place…. Check out their official press release… [editor’s note]
Also KRS-One who is scheduled to do a concert here in the Bay Area has supposedly expressed some concern about being here out west…
Here at KMEL a commitment and a pledge of sorts have been taken by the on air staff to help foster a new change.. The station is getting ready to start accentuating positivity within hip hop.. The challenge has been issued to listeners to try and make a difference.. The underlying goal is to help increase consciousness amongst the hip hop generation.. Things are getting ready to change… Hip Hop is at a turning point… Either we’re gonna turn things around.. or we’re gonna continue down a path of destruction with the worse yet to come…
by Davey D
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